By William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833)

William Wilberforce, the great English social reformer, understood the social benefits of religious faith. His convictions motivated his (eventually successful) campaign to ban the slave trade. In this extract, he argues that the Church is more than simply moral leaven. On the contrary, God rescues nations where the Church repents and prays.

Let true Christians pray continually for their country in this season of national difficulty. We bear upon us but too plainly the marks of a declining empire. Who can say but that the Governor of the universe, who declares Himself to be a God who hears the prayers of his servants may, in answer to their intercessions, for a while avert our ruin and continue [to extend] to us the fullness of those temporal blessings which in such abundant measure we have hitherto enjoyed . .

[I]t would be an instance in myself of that very false shame which I have condemned in others if I were not to boldly avow my firm persuasion that to the decline of religion and morality our national difficulties must both directly and indirectly be chiefly ascribed; and that my only solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so much on the wisdom of her rulers, or the courage of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many who, in a degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ, and on the humble trust that the intercession of these may still prevail and that for the sake of these, heaven may still look upon us with an eye of favor.1

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Footnotes:
1 William Wilberforce, A Practical View of . . . Real Christianity, in English Spirituality in the Time of Wesley (1994; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 516-517.
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